Grasses, shrubs and trees which grow on their own without interference or help from human beings are called natural vegetation. India has a wide range of natural vegetation.
India has five types of natural vegetation:
- Tropical rain forests
- Tropical deciduous forests
- Thorny bushes
- Mountain vegetation and
- Mangrove forests
Tropical rainforests exist in regions where the temperature is moderate and rainfall is heavy and regular. The Tropical Rainforests which always appear green are also called evergreen forests.
In an evergreen forest, because of the high temperature and heavy rainfall, most trees do not shed all their leaves at a time. Most evergreen forests in India are found in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and north-eastern states such as Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura.
There are certain rainforest regions that are not as dense as the regions with evergreen forests. The trees in these forests shed all their leaves at a particular time of the year. These rainforests are known as deciduous forests. They are also known as monsoon forests.
Deciduous forests are found in many parts of our country, such as Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, and in parts of Maharashtra. The spines on a cactus are actually modified leaves. They help to reduce the loss of water through evaporation in the hot sun.
Cacti and other thorny bushes are the third type of vegetation found in dry areas with high temperatures and very less rainfall. Thorny bushes are found in Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, parts of the Western Ghats and Gujarat.
Trees which grow in cold regions mostly found in mountainous regions where the temperatures are low are called coniferous trees owing to their conical shape. They are also classified as mountain vegetation and also known as Montane vegetation.
The fifth category of natural vegetation includes forests that grow in coastal areas: Mangrove forests. Mangroves are found mainly in the Sunderbans in West Bengal near the mouth of the river Hooghly.
Oxygen is very important for all animals to breathe. We breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. Plants and trees absorb the carbon dioxide that we exhale and release oxygen. This helps in maintaining the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the ecosystem. Soil erosion can be caused by natural agents like water, wind and glaciers.
In mountainous regions, the topmost fertile soil can get eroded by heavy rainfall. This is called leaching. In desert regions, the topmost fertile soil gets eroded by strong winds. In coastal regions, the waves of the sea wash away the topmost layer of fertile soil.
The roots of plants and trees bind the soil and prevent it from being washed away. This controls soil erosion. Rainforests are a rich source of rare trees that are useful in making furniture and musical instruments.
Some trees and plants also have medicinal properties and are used to treat various health disorders.
Forests also provide us with fuel wood, timber, fodder, herbs, lac, honey and gum. Besides all the above, forests are the natural habitat of wild life.
Trees play an important role in our ecology. Reckless cutting of trees can destroy the natural ecological balance as well as the flora and fauna. This has led to a depletion of our natural resources, which can, in turn, affect our living conditions.
Adoption of the policy of the 3Rs is extremely important i.e. Reduce, recycle and reuse. We should reduce unnecessary cutting of trees, and recycle and reuse forest resources. We can have special programmes like the Van Mahotsav, where we can involve people in planting saplings.